SU insider reveals all on upcoming SU election
Matt Wilks ran for welfare last year and tells us what he thinks about the upcoming SU elections
It’s that time of year again, the time of year when University of Nottingham students have to put up with being hounded for their vote in a two week long exercise in brand recognition. SU elections are hard work, I’ve been there, done that and literally got the t-shirt.
It was a lot of fun but campaigning was flawed. Based on a byzantine set of rules about how far away from a computer you had to be to give out flyers and relying almost exclusively on those running (with the exclusion of general emails) to advertise the election.
In response to this, it seems that the Student’s Union have taken it upon themselves to attempt to vastly increase the turnout, a worthy goal. Unfortunately the method chosen to increase turnout has been to almost entirely get rid of campaign rules.
According to several candidates, all campaigning is now policed by a few guidelines centred around ‘respecting other candidates, students and the community.’ This aim is lofty but the execution is difficult. Candidates with a grievance take it to an (unelected) elections committee who then arbitrate on the concept of ‘respect.’
Candidates are also not allowed to gain an ‘unfair advantage’ over other candidates. However, what is ‘an unfair advantage?’. The Tab has seen evidence of current executive officers using their official email addresses to recruit members of their campaign team and feel that this is probably unfair, though the Election Committee saw it as apparently within the rules.
One candidate told the Tab that complaints had been made at a meeting about this but ‘because so many exec officers are rerunning and because the meeting wasn’t run well at all, I felt incredibly uncomfortable putting across my views.’
The issue of current executive officers running for positions next year is a contentious one. It raises many issues, not least about how they are going to balance their normal working day with campaigning. Apparently many have taken holiday time in order to campaign, which is admirable, but might present a few difficulties to the normal working of the SU with so many officers off at one time.
What’s more, with current Democracy and Communications Officer Luke Mitchell running for President, he is unavailable to run the election process. Is it coincidence that the SU hired a ‘Democracy Intern’ Andrew Lancaster in February? Lancaster, according to several candidates ‘seems to be running the election.’
It seems the SU is having to pay over the odds for election leadership through allowing current executive officers, meant to be representational and as close to the student body as possible, to run over multiple years.
The simple fact is that trying to reduce the apathy towards the election process that is endemic at the University of Nottingham is a worthy goal. However, doing so at the expense of fairness and transparency is not the way forward.
Money ought to be spent on advertising the election itself (current going rate for unitemps flyering staff- is £6.19) by bringing it directly into halls of residence and even Lenton and Beeston. This advertising shouldn’t just take place during the election, but should be continuous and all encompassing.
Being on the SU exec can be a thankless task for a student body that often can’t tell where the University ends and the Student’s Union begins. However, it ought to be celebrated and its officers elected through a fair and equal process, one with stronger guidelines and properly engaged voters.
Have your say! Do you think this election is being run fairly? How would you increase voter turnout? Drop us a comment below and get involved in the debate.
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